Radio Merit Badge Numbers 2020

You can find the full 2020 listing of merit badge numbers at Bryan on Scouting – 2020 merit badge rankings: A list rewritten by the pandemic.

Radio Merit Badge came in ranked at 90 with 3,550 earned. That’s down by 36% from 2019 at 5,519. You can find a chart below with the numbers displayed for each year beginning in 1990. You can find the full history at Radio Merit Badge History.

While it’s disappointing to see the drop in numbers for 2020, it’s actually quite amazing considering the pandemic lockdowns.

Congratulations to all those who continued to bring the Radio Merit Badge to so many Scouts.

COVID-19 Guidance for Radio Scouting Activities

We’ve pulled together the following information on dealing with COVID-19 that may prove useful to your Radio Scouting activities.

Please note that each state, municipality, and Scout council have their own guidance for addressing COVID-19 issues surrounding Scouting activities. You’ll need to take those into account when considering any Radio Scouting activities.

As starting points, we recommend the following online resources:

Work closely with your local Scout council and health authorities as guidelines are open to change as local conditions change.

We’ve also pulled together these comments about Jamboree on the Air and the Radio Merit Badge from Bill Stearns, NE4RD, Scouts BSA JOTA Team Lead and President of K2BSA ARA, as well as Gary Wilson, K2GW, the Scouts BSA Radio Merit Badge Subject Matter Expert.

Here’s what they have to say specifically about the QSO requirement for the Radio Merit Badge:

Bill, NE4RD — 
As was discussed during the Ham Expo, connecting your rig to a zoom/google meet/skype call is completely possible.  If an operator can figure out how to run WSJT-X, shouldn’t take much more effort to get voice to pass through to the rig.
Gary, K2GW — 
Bill’s right, but it gets even easier.  The contact requirement can be done with a simulated  QSO, even to the point of squeezing the PTT switch on an imaginary HT in the Scouts hand.
“Using proper call signs, Q signals, and abbreviations, carry on a 10-minute real or simulated amateur radio contact using voice, Morse code, or digital mode.”
I recently counseled two Scouts remotely where they simulated a QSO with me over FaceTime, then watched me via FaceTime make a real contact and took a tour of my shack remotely for their station visit.

Our sense is that you could easily complete the entire Radio Merit Badge through online options.

Please feel free to add your own thoughts and comments to this post. We’re sure there are many creative options available to continue with Radio Scouting activities during our stay-at-home time as well as engaging in Jamboree on the Air, October 16, 17, 18.

National Jamboree 2021 Postponed

Communications were received yesterday from the 2021 National Jamboree Executive Leadership Team that the National Jamboree 2021 has been postponed due to the unpredictability of the pandemic and its impact on local councils.

The Boy Scouts of America is committed to the safety of all youth in our programs. Planning, preparations, and decisions regarding National Jamborees take place months, and even years, in advance. The unresolved issues surrounding the pandemic make it exceedingly difficult to plan and prepare for a premiere event of this size in a way that continues to keep the safety of Scouts, volunteers, staff, and communities at the forefront.

Thank you to all the volunteers that signed up to be on staff at the K2BSA Amateur Radio Station!  We look forward to the rescheduling of this event and your continued support of our operations at the National Jamborees.

Jamboree 2021 Call for Operators

We’re getting ready for the largest Scout gathering in the United States coming Summer 2021.  We’re looking for operators to be on staff at the K2BSA demonstration station and Radio Merit Badge area.

The operations plan is in the works.  This time we’re going to be focusing on demonstrating Voice and CW operations on HF/VHF/UHF and satellite.  As well, we will most likely be doing Radio Merit Badge, Morse Code Interpreter Strip, balloon launch(es), and Amateur Radio Direction Finding.

If you think you’re interested in serving on staff at the National Jamboree, please consider applying on the national site by navigating here then fill out our survey here to get in line for interviews.  If you are not sure but still want to interview, please submit the survey.  Training for your position will start towards the end of 2020, but apply early to ensure your inclusion in this event!

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